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H. Robert Averell, grandson of Jenny Lind, on tour in the United Kingdom during 1908 in The Girls of Gottenberg

February 12, 2014

H. Robert Averell (1885-1913), English actor and singer, as he appeared on tour in the United Kingdom during 1908 in the role of Prince Otto in George Dance’s The Girls of Gottenberg company. The part was first played by George Grossmith junior in the original production of The Girls of Gottenberg at the Gaiety Theatre, London (15 May 1907).
(photo: Foulsham & Banfield, London, 1908; postcard published by The Rotary Photographic Co Ltd, London, in the Rotary Photographic Series, no. 2356 B)

The promising young actor known as H. Robert Averell (and sometimes as Robert Averell) was born Walter Averell Lind Goldschmidt in Kensington, London, on 4 May 1885. He was the son of Walter Otto Goldschmidt (1854-1929) and his first wife, Mary Julia (née Daniell, 1859-?), who were married in 1884 and acrimoniously separated ten years later. Averell was therefore the grandson of Jenny Lind (1820-1887), the celebrated soprano known ‘The Swedish Nightingale,’ his father being her eldest child by her husband, the German-born musician, Otto Moritz David Goldschmidt (1829-1907).

* * * * *

‘Mr Robert Averell, a promising young English actor, died suddenly recently from the after effects of a chill. Only a few days previous Mr Averell, who made his name on the metropolitan stage as Hubert in The Girl in the Taxi, was playing in Oh, I Say at the London Criterion. A grandson of Jenny Lind, the famous Swedish diva, he was an old Westminster schoolboy and a ward in Chancery, and, consent to his adopting the stage as a career being practically impossible to obtain, he made his way to South Africa, where although under age he managed to join the Cape Mounted Rifles. Then he joined a travelling theatrical company which was often unable to proceed for lack of funds and the privations he then met with unquestionably hastened his end.’
(The New Zealand Observer, Auckland, Saturday, 13 December 1913, p. 14a)

In 1910 Averell was declared bankrupt, ‘his failure being attributed to his having lived in excess of his income.’ (The Times, London, Saturday, 14 May 1910, p. 17d) This reverse did not interfere with his career, however, and he went on to appear in several West End productions including Our Little Cinderella, a play with music (Playhouse Theatre, London, 20 December 1910), with his kinsman Cyril Maude (1862-1951) in the leading role; and The Girl in the Taxi, the musical play produced at the Lyric Theatre, London, on 5 September 1912. Averell’s last appearance was in the Parisian farce, Oh! I Say!, produced at the Criterion Theatre, London, on 28 May 1913. During the run he became ill and died suddenly in October that year, when his part was taken over by Ronald Squire who went on to become a well-known character actor.

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